tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC January 30, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PST
dysunion. he could change that if anybody on the planet could. but however he falls over himself to say so tonight, he has not taken a step to do it. and that's "hardball" for now. our special coverage of the state of the union begins right now. >> i have been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor. >> i believe that will real and positive immigration reform is possible. >> believe me, we have to close down our government we're building that wall. i call it the russian hoax. >> rocket man should have been handled a long time ago. >> the stock market is at an all-time high. >> the biggest tax cut in the history of our country. hey, i'm president. can you believe it? >>. ♪
>> and good evening. on what was day 376 of the trump administration, tonight president donald trump after shattering so many of the norms of the modern presidency tonight gets to enjoy perhaps the most presidential backdrop of them all. a joint session of congress and a live television audience for his report on the state of our union. it is also safe to say that no president at the time of his first state of the union address has ever presided over an administration in quite this much peril into this not be the first time an american president has delivered a televised state of the union address at the apex of a scandal threatening his presidency. bill clinton did it 20 years ago in 1998. barely a week after news first broke of his affair with a white house white house intern. bill clinton never mentioned that scandal in that speech. his approval ratings spiked after that speech. 44 years ago tonight was richard nixon declaring in his state of
the union that one year of watergate is enough. by august of that year, nixon had resigned the presidency. tonight this new president addresses congress while lawmakers of his party unleash an unprecedented attack on the fbi and its investigation of the president while the president's own lawyers negotiate his testimony to the special counsel. the state of the union is a lot of things but never quite like this. >> we will forego introductions and just say good evening. great to have you here with us. we're in for several hours of coverage here with our immediate family, extended family all of our correspondents. we have gathered family members that you know, chris matthews is here. host of "hardball." nicolle wallace is here it, host of deadline white house and former white house communications director under george w. bush. pulitzer prize winning columnist for the "washington post" eugene robinson is here. other friends. our entire team of correspondents will analyze what we see and hear.
we'll fact check it on the fly, as well. before we get too far down the road, it occurs to me everything we see tonight is against a backdrop that we can't see, a possible government shutdown in nine days time. >> it has been eight days since the last government shutdown ended. and we're looking at nine days until everybody thinks there's going to be another one. in some ways, it's interesting. that is weird because we never had a government shutdown when one party controlled the white house and the house and senate before. in some sense, that's unprecedented, too. those government shutdowns almost feel like the normal kind of crazy. they feel like maybe that would be happening with this dysfunctional congress we've got no matter who obviously is president. but then there's the trump specific crazy. even if we all live to be 110 years old, we will still get to wow little kids some day by telling little kids decades down the road that we were alive when the sitting president of the united states was the subject of
a serious ongoing counter intelligence probe into whether his election was in part the product of a conspiracy with a foreign power. i mean, that existential cloud hanging over this presidency has the president himself put it talking about it as a cloud over his administration, that is the cloud that creates the weather in washington. that is the sky under which things live and die in american politics. i don't know how much it's going to be spoken about tonight, but it's very hard to avoid in everything that we do. >> speak of which as rachel and i get under way tonight, we have just been handed a story from the "washington post" on of this same issue, the headline says it all. justice department officials appealed to white house to halt release of memo alleging fbi abuses related to author of trump dossier. this is the work of devlin barrett of the "washington post" with us tonight. devlin, share our reporting with
your reporting with members of our audience. >> sure. what we're told is that on monday, the head of the fbi and deputy attorney general rod rosenstein went to the white house to meet with chief of staff john kelly, to try to urge him to come around to their position which is that this memo that has been such a fierce subject of debate on the hill should not be made public. their argument is that this do damage to national security and it's essentially an inaccurate attack on the fbi. >> has anyone you've spoken to addressed the fact that when two officials of this standing and rank make the trip to the white house to beg the white house not to release this, what then happens to one or both of these officials if it is released nonetheless? >> well, i think, look, boat the fbi and the doj, the buildings haven't moved but there is a greater distance between those two buildings and the white
house than there's been in some time because of this russia investigation issue. and you know, they're asking and i think my sense from the folks i'm talking to is they know this is a high mountain and they probably won't get there. there's a lot of concern that the white house and the president are determined to have this released in some form. and you know, for the intelligence community they think it's a dangerous precedent to set and i think the implications are bad not just for the moment and what's in the document but for what may follow from it in terms of similar releases down the road for political reasons in their minds. >> devlin, it's rachel maddow pop for you for talking about this. one question who is talking to who obviously here. there's been earlier reporting that the chief of staff, john kelly, had approached the attorney general jeff sessions to take issue with the justice department having raised objections to the release of this memo to try to basically press the president's case at memo ought to be released. that raised eyebrows because the attorney general jeff sessions is supposed to be recuse dprd
all matters -- all investigations related to the 2016 campaign including the russia investigation. is that an important part of this? your reporting is that it wasn't jeff sessions. it was the deputy attorney general and the fbi director who went up to the white house to make this case. >> right, it is an important part of this and one of the questions that is sort of frankly hung around the justice department, the senior levels of the justice department, is how it is handling its recusals. this isn't the first time this issue has come up with sessions or with others. and so it is an issue. i do think in practical terms, you know, the fbi has the most skin in the game here. and the deputy attorney general is essentially is the fbi director's boss. so it makes sort of logical bureaucratic sense that those two people would be the ones to make the case. you're right in that there is a sort of larger, this fight, this disagreement is happening in the context of a larger conversation and frankly, a not very friendly conversation about everyone's roles on these issues. >> there's the headline josh and
devlin barrett are the co-authors of this article making news at "the washington post" this hour. devlin, our thanks for joining us. >> thank you. >> that reporting about the human drama of this, the deputy attorney general who is overseeing the russia matter, fbi director, both men are appointees of president trump going to the white house making this case against what the white house wants to do. what's happening with the republicans in congress is obviously very confrontational towards the russia investigation. the democrat in congress find themselves in a very fluid position what their role is with the ongoing congressional investigations how they should respond to what the republicans are doing. democrats on the house intelligence committee prepared their own document on this scandal. like the republican document that's caused this big firestorm, the democratic document is reportedly based on classified information. well, today, the democrats on the house intelligence committee made their own document available to all members of congress. which itself is a little bit
i've controversial decision. joining us is now is an adam schiff. thanks for joining us tonight. appreciate it. >> good to be with you. >> first, let's get your reaction to the new reporting from "the washington post" that the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein and the fbi director went to the white house and implored chief of staff john kelly that the republican memo written by your counterpart in the intelligence committee, devin nunes and his staff, should not be released that it would be profoundly damaging. >> well, i'm frankly impressed that the deputy attorney general and the fbi director would do this. they know they're not going to have a receptive audience particularly if the reports are accurate that the president was irate at the fact that the department notified congress that this was extraordinarily reckless what they were doing. but i think they're doing the right thing. i share the concerns that the department and the fbi have that the memo was misleading. but i also share the broader
concern of the precedent that it sets. this is the first time as far as we can tell that this provision has ever been used. and hopefully, it will be the last time it's used because the idea that we're going to declassify information for a partisan reason is an anathema to the tradition of our committee and not how we should do business. it certainly put us in a difficult position because when this he showed this memo to the house, they misled the house. we felt it necessary to tell members what the real facts were, but we are doing something differently than the majority and that is when they do vote to release our memo as we expect they're going to have to, we are going to ask the department of justice and the fbi to redact anything that concerns them. that i think is the responsible thing to do. >> congressman, there has been a report that congressman, chairman nunes from your committee was asked point blank if he worked with the white house on creating this
republican memo. he refused to answer whether or not he worked with the white house on this memo. obviously, that's important, right? if this current firestorm in washington is about the white house deciding whether or not to release an anti-fbi document that it helped create to try to undermine the fbi investigation of this white house, that is -- that is something else. do you know whether or not this republican memo was created in conjunction with the white house? >> we don't. and in fact, during our hearing yesterday, mike quigley, my colleague from chicago, asked the chairman, did you or your staff have any role in working with the white house to generate this? after all, this is the same chairman that went to the white house and said i have secret evidence of an unmasking conspiracy of the obama administration. we only later learned this evidence he supposedly had came from the white house itself. at that hearing we'll be releasing the transcript on this tomorrow, the chairman initially denies contacting or having
contact with the white house. but they be he's asked if the staff who obviously wrote the memo were in touch with the white house and refuses to answer the question. so that remains very much an open issue and, of course, if the white house was complicity in any way in the production of this memo, that makes it even more scandalous. >> congressman, for folks watching tonight, because of the compression of time and space, during the trump era, it seems like we are covering a legitimate crisis each day and each evening. so tell us, tell them, con ski quen the consequences of this and what's the worst thing that can be happen if this is released. >> this memo used as a pretext by the president to fire rod rosenstein or fire bob mueller.
this is an effort to impeach the fbi. as the chairman announced to our astonishment at the hearing, he says we are investigating the fbi. we are investigating the department of justice. the reason we won't let them see this information is they're under investigation. that's a pretty dramatic statement to make. they're supposed to consult with the minority whenever they open an investigation. they have never informed us they were doing an investigation of the department of justice and the fbi. but, this is very consequential if it undermines support for the fbi and bob mueller and somehow signals to the white house that if he fires these people, that congress will lay down and roll over. no one should make any mistake about this. if he takes that kind of action, that will be an obstruction of justice and it will cause a constitutional crisis here. but that is the worst case scenario. >> congressman, you just alluded to it. if you step two inches away from
this investigation to which you're so close, you see a pattern here. it is a slow motion saturday night massacre. get rid of comey. go after the deputy fbi director, mccabe, yesterday. now targeting rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who obviously has the power to to basically decide on the future of the special counsel's role. there is a clear grinding out by the administration of the entire prosecution effort here. is the purging or the impeaching if you will the impeaching process. >> well, i think that's right. have the firing of james comey. just after the firing you have the administration given pretextual answers for why it happened. we don't like how they handled the clinton investigation. that wasn't particularly plausible. the president would admit the next day that wasn't the reason at all. it had everything to do with russia. similarly when the president ordered the firing of bob
mueller an order not carried out, there was a pretext already teed up. well, we fired him because of the dispute over golf club fees or we fired him over the fact that mueller's law firm had previously worked for jared kushner. they had these pretextule reasons camouflaging the real reason and i think bob mueller is seeing this. of course, we're seeing this. and it goes to that question of intent. are these actions intended countrily intended to obstruct the investigation. >> congressman adam schiff, thank you for being with us tonight. i know this is a very busy night. >> thank you. >> let's begin our conversation here in new york and nicole, the question to you is, if in the last west wing you worked in, the fbi director who obviously if memory serves was one robert mueller. >> yeah. >> if he walked in the west wing, would the deputy attorney general for a meeting like this, what would the reception be and what would the likelihood be the
president would follow their wishes and instructions? >> this happened. i mean it, then attorney general ashcroft was who thelized with pancreatitis, someone on twitler fact check that i'm sure. there was one of the mother controversial counter terror programs, i believe it was having to do with enhanced interrogations. >> surveillance. >> one of the metadata programs, they were they were reauthorized, sometimes into secret. jim comey and bob mueller threatened to quit if the president didn't take their side and the president quickly without hesitation or deliberation took their side. so this happened in the bush white house. what's so extraordinary about this story today is that you've got "the washington post" this morning reporting that rosenstein, rod rosenstein who obviously oversees the mueller investigation and christopher wray, trump's appointee as fbi director trekked up to capitol hill. that's their word. they begged the speaker not to put classified sensitive
information in the hands of devin nunes. maybe, i don't know that they made this case but another former head of intelligence agencies suggested that it might have been because in april devin nunes got his hands on other intelligence and so mishanded it, that he was investigated by house ethics. so he has a history of mishandling fisa intel. so rosenstein and wray go up there and ask him not to give this sensitive fisa intelligence to the committee. he's rebuffed by the speaker for reasons that are unknown and inexplicable to me. then chris wray, the fbi director just wants to talk to the committee before they vote to release this information that the doj says is extraordinarily reckless and they say no. so chris wray and rod rosenstein are like the tom cruz character in the firm" where everywhere they look they see haas till enplies from the president to the republicans in congress supposed to have their back.
it's stunning like out of a thriller. >> that's a very good point. paul ryan will have a lot to answer for i think for handing over that information to nunes for essentially letting devin nunes destroy the house intelligence committee, the intelligence committees after all, are like bipartisan oasis. >> used to be. >> used to be. that's what they're supposed to be because they handle such sensitive stuff, national security stuff that we all have to agree on. therefore, there is a long tradition of including the minority in all decisions in all important decisions. they aren't partisan bodies or they weren't till now. this is on paul ryan. this is on his watch. he's the speaker of the house. >> chris? >> well, i think that question is about paul ryan's responsibility. even when moderate republicans come on our programs and talk, they just act like they're independent sort of beings. but they do elect the speaker. the speaker is accountable to the republican caucus. and why he would allow nunes to
play the role offagetant to a president. it is a real division of -- a sort of the congress has integrity. it's supposed to be investigating in this case the white house. and yet, here he seems to be taking orders from the president. i think he's never come over, gotten over that midnight ride of paul referee he pulled when he went down to the old executive office building, got this cache of supposedly hot information, i guess got a few hours of sleep and went right back to the oval office and delivered it to the west wing like he got it somewhere else. he was serving the interests of the defendant. that's not the role of an investigator. >> we are 19 minutes into our coverage tonight. we are not that far from the beginning of the state of the union address. time to take our first break. we'll be right back and when we do, we'll talk about russian sanctions. also in the news this week.
welcome back to our special coverage of the president's state of the union address. the trump administration started work on how they would lift u.s. sanctions against russia unilaterally. those very early efforts by trump staffers were so unnerving to bipartisan members of congress, that last summer congress almost unanimously voted to block the president from unilaterally lifting any sanctions and voted almost unanimously to require him to oppose more sanctions because of russia meddling in our election. that legislation was really popular. it got only five no votes in the house and senate combined. but when the deadline for action on sanctions arrived last night, that deadline laid out in that law, the trump administration announced they will not be imposing any new sanctions on russia. they put out a list of russian oligarchs mandated by the law but the list which they had six months and all the resources of the treasury department to make turns out to have been copied
and pasted from two other sources. one, the forbes magazine list of the rushest russian and also apparently the rem kremlin website listing high ranking government officials. given that the white house has been getting kind of an earful from congress on this subject today. >> with that in mind, joining us tonight in these moments before we turn our attention to the president is senator claire mccaskill, democrat of missouri. thank you for being with us. and earlier today, you put the following out on twitter. congress voted 517-5 to impose sanctions on russia. the president decides to ignore that law. folks, that is a constitutional crisis. there should be outrage in every corner of this country. senator, tell the folks watching tonight why specifically it's a constitutional crisis. >> well, we don't have -- it's very rare tore have 517 members of congress agree on even if the
sun has come up in the morning. and to have that kind of support for russian sanctions because of what they have done and continue to do to try to break the backbone of democracies across this globe and particularly here in our country, you know, something's gone upside down. you know, the republicans that i've always known were very protective of law enforcement and went after russia. now, under this president, the republicans are going after law enforcement and are very protective of russia. it is very weird. and i think it's very troubling to those of us who obviously see that russia is continuing to meddle, continuing to try to impact outcomes of elections and frankly, what the american people hear every day over social media. >> senator, why do you think the trump administration is behaving this way toward russia? on the sanctions issue which is a1 on the list of priorities for the putin government in terms of
what they want from american policy, we have seen the sanctions office at the state department shut down. we've seen action unilaterally by the very first -- in the very first weeks of the administration by trump staffers particularly at the state department to try to look into unwinding those sanctions. we've seen them slow walk congressionally mandated sanctions and pow this strange situation with this list of oligarchs and the announcement today they're not going to do what congress said they must do in that law. what do you think is motivating their behavior on this? it's very consistent over time. >> it's very consistent on the part of the white house and this president. it's a real head scratcher. we've all noticed he has never said one critical word about russia. this is russia that has gone into other countries to try to impose their will. this is a russia that has no respect for human rights. no respect for freedom of speech. no respect for freedom of assembly. they have no respect for all of the values we hold dear in this
country. so it is really confusing and i think that's one of the reasons, frankly, the american people want bob mueller to do his job. we want to know what the facts are and whether or not there was any kind of engagement with russia in order to try to help this president become chief executive officer of our country. >> for those just joining us, i wanted to give everybody a heads up, our cameras are standing by for the president to exit the white house, get in the motorcade and go on up top capitol hill. interesting because it's been jermaine in the past few days, the first lady traveled separately and is already on capitol hill, we're told, because she and karen pence are hosting a reception up there. senator, i also wanted to let you know, our friend chris hayes is with us here in new york to join in the questioning >> senator, your colleague bob corker who obviously has been outspoken about what he feels has been his frustrations with the white house particularly the
way it's handled the state department, outspoken about russia and sanctions he basically today said he trusts them on this. essentially, he thinks it's a good faith effort. they doesn't think they're messing around and aren't going to be forthcoming with sanctions. he's changes his tune on a lot of things. i wonder if that's representative where you think your republican colleagues are in this administration in terms of their willingness to take steps to hold them accountable to the letter of the law that you folks passed? >> well, honestly, i haven't had a chance to check in with a lot of my colleagues today on that subject. we have been meeting for a long period of type today with the group of republican senators that we worked with to try to reach an agreement on how we can get protection for those young people that qualify under daca also known as the dreamers. and so we've been kind of focused on that subject matter trying to reach some kind of compromise and consensus how we can move forward. i would hope they would all be as upset as many of us are on my side of the aisle just because of the volume of the votes
supporting these sanctions. i know this, if john mccain were here, i think he would be hollering. >> could i ask you a question about money? there's an old expression from watergate days, senator, "follow the money." you said it's weirds this president seems to be so pro-russian. one possible motive is money. that his family gathered money over the last several months in fact from deutsche bank through sort of a pass through from the oligarchs, the jared kushner, the son-in-law, the rest of the family, they seem to have operated as a family. do you think money's involved in the president's tilt to russia? >> well, i don't know. and you know, i'm a former prosecutor. i've been very careful through all of this to come to no con clueses. i don't think i should even speculate on what the facts will show. but i do know that there are financial experts on the mueller team and i do know that there are other law enforcement agencies taking a look at some of the trump and trump family
businesses. so i'm hopeful that those investigations will get to the facts and then be able to share them with the american people. so we will know whether or not this was really not -- this was an innocent effort to meet with russians and then lie about it or whether it was something more nefarious. >> senator claire mccaskill, you took a few minutes on your way to the house chamber before hearing the main event tonight. thank you for spending time with us on the air tonight. we've been watching on one other side of the screen the south portico at the white house sharp eyed viewers may have seen general kelly on a cell phone earlier. we're waiting to see the president come through those doors and into the motorcade. kristen welker is inside the white house for us tonight. kristin, have we had any reaction yet to this "washington post" reporting about the in-person lobbying against releasing the memo? >> we're getting our first bit of reaction, brian, as we watch those pictures. president about to depart for
the capitol. from one white house official says that the decision making process whether to release that memo will be a process laden exercise with appropriate consultation with all the appropriate officials and the decision will not be rushed, an emphasis on that. also after the advice and recommendation period, the president will have the final say. so this official really stressing the fact that this is going to be a discussion, it's not something that's going to be rushed. in fact, they were quite adamant there the wasn't going to be a decision before the state of the union address tonight. the president very much wants to keep the focus on his address, brian. and i anticipate he's going to try to turn the page. obviously, away from all of these headlines that are looming over his big speech the white house saying he's aiming to strike a note of unity. >> kristen welker, thanks. >> there is one measure by which this president is really cleaning up. absolutely lapping all presence presidents this far into their
tonight. over at the white house, we are still awaiting the departure of donald trump there at the south portico. a lot of the preview information we have been given from the white house as you might imagine has to do with the economy. the portions of the speech where the president is going to key on the u.s. economy rapidly emerging as a favorite topic of his whenever he speaks. stephanie rhule is with us to talk about this subject having been a veteran of the financial world before seeing the red light and joining the television world. she anchors 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. eastern time weekdays here. so stephanie, give us a preview. >> so we're going to hear much of what president trump said in davos touting the stock market, the extraordinary economic recovery. but here's what doesn't make much sense. he overstates it. the economy is doing really well. but it's really been a steady climb. last year when he spoke right around this time, he talked
about people suffering in this country. he talked about american carnage. he specifically went after saying there are 94 million people not in the labor force. well, guess what, this year, it's 95.5 million people. this year, this time last year, he talked about the 43 million people on food stamps. that number is basically the same. he was furious last year crushing obama when he talked about the trade deficit. this is something that infuriates him. guess what, that $800 billion in trade deficits that we had last year, it's only increased this year. and he wanted to get out of tpp. one thing that we've learns, he hasn't renegotiated trade agreements like he said he would. we have seen the trade train chug on without us. there are 35 newbie lateral or regional trade agreements put in place this year. the united states is only involved with one. so while the president can talk about this good economy and it is, if you look at gdp at 2.5%,
that is better than obama saw in the last year but it is not the 5%, 5%, 6% president trump said we're going to have and slightly below canada and mexico. it is a rosy picture but when the president and gary cohn say this is the moment for growth and rebirth for all americans, it's just not the case. >> all right, stephanie rhule on capitol hill awaiting the president as a speech with all of us as we watch members of the senate come in. >> i think stephanie makes a point here that you know, donald trump has gotten two great inheritances in his life. the first a real estate empire gifted by his father that he turned into his business and the second is a economy who obviously barack obama and janet yellen who obviously he fired passed off to him that was recovered. what's so remarkable when think of the difference between barack obama and donald trump in their personalities and bearing and the way they approach the job is the similarities between the barack obama economy and the
donald trump economy. when you put it on the graph, you see a line. and you can barely tell where the difference is. the job growth, gdp number consistent largely throughout, wage growth still slightly stagnant. you've got a situation in which every way this man has sort of pictured himself as the opposite of barack obama, he has presided over an economy this year that is remarkably consistent with the recovery of the last five years. >> can i ask a devil's advocate question on that point? is there any rhyme to this reason? i mean, we all think of him as a, if me, as a braggart, who obviously likes to talk up his own success and we see this as part and parcel of that. is there a role for the president to tell white lies that make the economy seem better than it is as a way of trying to boost the economy is there an economic effect of political brag doesh angadocio comes from the top. >> the most normal thing he does as president is take credit for
good economic news. that is a consistent bipartisan tradition that every has done. if the economy's growing abunemployment is low, democrat, republican, of any stripe is going to tell you they as president are the reason for it. >> but i do take your point though. i think that if anyone can convince people to feel better about the economy, then the economy gets better. right? because they. >> you boost consumer confidence by telling people they ought to be confident? >> they're willing to spend. >> within a degree, yeah. >> so i do think there's something to that, yeah. >> we want to bring in now hugh hewitt, msnbc's hugh hewitt watching the first year of the trump presidency. hugh, obviously, the big policy change made to the economy is the tax cut which was passed and the effects of that are going to cascade possibly, negatively in many directs through the next year. would you agree the first year has been sort of remarkable in that all those factors the
president president talked about last year as being signs of a weak economy are still there and things that were good are still good. >> i wrote down when he said trump is about making people think he's not president trump. there are so many similarities. tonight he's going to open i believe by going back to his february 28th speech to congress and talking about the defeat of isis in syria and iraq. i think he's going to talk about delivering on promises that he made. i think he's going to be trying to subtly distinguish his tenure in his first year from president obama's eight years. you make a good argument he inherited a rising economy. that's a little bit more difficult to do. it's not hard to do in syria and iraq. it's not hard to do with saudi arabia, egypt recognizing jerusalem as the capital of israel and the reality of being opposed to iran and russia whereas president obama was trying to achieve detente with iran. i'm looking back to the speech he made a year ago. i think he's going to stand up here tonight and say i delivered what i promised and the
implication is the guy before me didn't. >> one lesson i think we've all learned democrat and republican over the last 16 years as we enter this nation's 17th year of its longest war in afghanistan where new data says 44% of the country is not under u.s. control is that year one mission accomplished moments, things that look like foreign policy successes in the first six months and first three years and five years often can get out of hand very quickly. it's going to be very interesting to see how the stewardship of american leadership particularly in the middle east continues past this first year. >> the news today announcing that he's just been instructed by the trump administration to no longer release information about which districts in afghanistan are government held versus insurgency held to no longer release those basic statistics about casualties in the afghan national security forces. that kind of a public blackout on information from afghanistan is something that we haven't
seen before and for a public that's already disinterested in hearing about the war in afghanistan, that could potentially be a big deal. >> this begins. >> that contrasts very definitely with the sent come commander saying it's a matter of weeks not months till isis is completely irrradicated in iraq and syria. there's a lot of good news we'll hear about tonight. >> hugh hewitt thanks. those watching from the chamber, this begins the proceedure around bringing the president in down the center the aisle. minutes from now. we're waiting to see the president come out that door and into the car. we are going to take a break and we'll be right back with more of our live coverage.
getting seated. if you've been watching during our conversation, you saw members of the trump family going to their seats up in the balcony as we're a few minutes away now from getting under way. >> this president comes to congress for the speech tonight with one metric in mind. undoubtedly. where he really does stand absolutely apart from every other president in modern history. this speech tonight might impact that metric. the president is hoping the white house is hoping it will do so in a positive way. this is where this president stands for approval ratings. compared to his recent predecessors at around the same point in their first terms. now, president george w. bush began his second year in the presidency at a moment of peak national unity after 9/11. that's that remarkable 82% highest modern approval rating for any president. as you can see there in comparison, president trump has the lowest approval rating at this point in his presidency by quite a distance.
that is a historically dismal figure, 39%. whether you personally approve of this president or you don't, what does he have to do tonight? does he actually have a shot tonight at improving that number, at improving his standing with the american people? state of the union addresses can do that when they're at their best. does he have a topic? does he have a type of performance? does he have a surprise that he can bring that might move the needle and make people dislike him less than they do? let's bring in joy reid, the host of "am joy" on this network and somebody who is never shy in giving her advice to everybody on all sides of questions like this. great to see. >> you always good to see you. >> you have been a sharp critic of this president in terms of how he ended up at this approval rating. i've heard you more be more decisive than almost anybody in the ways he's turned people off. given your sharp analysis around that, how do you think he could
most help himself with this speech? if you were advising him to try to turn the terrible numbers around, what would you tell him to do? >> it's interesting. i ran into peggy noonan on the way in. we were chatting for' moment about having grown up in a household with a parent very anti-reagan. but when the challenger event happened, we all, the whole nation sort of stopped and listen to reagan speak to us. he was able to command the pulpit of the presidency both because of the national tragedy but because he did the thing a president normally does. you run to divide the country in the general and try to unify from day one and say i want to be everyone's president. donald trump has done the oops. he's essentially remained the way he was in the primary the entire time. because he is the person dividing the country, it becomes very difficult for him to also be the person to unify the country or to call for unity when it seems the unity he wants is unanimity in complete supporting donald trump. it's an almost impossible tachk.
you have a lot of people who will not listen. you're going to have a lot of people that are on the other side of the aisle that won't listen to him. he won't have access to them. he has a tendency to speak to his base. steven miller helped write the speech. one piece of advice would have had to have happeneded already. don't have steven miller create the speech. his most successful speech to date was written by gary cohn when he went overseas. so because he's still going to have trumpisms in the speech, he's already tripped himself up. donald trump would have to renounce not just his entire sort of message during the campaign but his entire lifetime of divisiveness. he would almost have to give a philadelphia speech in renouncing his own bigotry. i don't think he's small c constitutionally capable of doing it. >> joy, there's the issue of the trump era republican party. if the president did make a
grand gesture or grand inclusive rising above it kind of gesture tonight to try to bring everybody in the room and everybody in the country by extension all together around something where he showed his leadership in that way, it the sump we've seen sort of warnings ahead of tonight's state of the union from the president's sharpest supporters in his base and in the conservative movement that he shouldn't try to bull a bipartisan speech off tonight because they won't want to hear it. >> exactly. you had one member of congress, a sitting member of congress suggest any undocumented immigrants brought to the state of the union should be arrested in the well of congress. they would like to see public arrests on television. the problem for donald trump and it's part of a function of the way our politics are now, the base of the republican party wants to see the other side bled, not accommodated. you have constant incentives for
donald trump who loves the roar of the crowd and for his party that fear that very same crowd to continue to divide. to continue to put the pedal to the metal on the things the base wants the most. deport people that didn't come from countries they didn't want them to come from. stop and turn back the block. i don't know how you do that and have an inclusive speech at the same time. >> joy, it was great you were talking about the challenge of the speech. i watched that with tip o'neil. we were both in tears. it was a romantic speech. they were blown apart in a space capsule and had a minute to think about it. he managed to bring the country together in a very poetic way. he came back and gave it to the president and didn't mess with it. he delivered a beautifully ro n romantic tribute to america and
commitment to really science. i'm sure the president doesn't have anybody like that around him today. i don't think there is a romantic around trump who has that gut patriotism that a lot of us shared. >> it's interesting. one of the things you and i share in common, chris, there is a certain romantic quality at it's best to the presidency. there is a certain performance to it. ronald reagan understood that ceremonial aspect of the presidency. when he was ready to do it and wanted to do it, barack obama had the ability to sore and give a speech that was so beautiful in the delivery and the way it was crafted, it brought the country together around the emotion and ceremony of it. donald trump has no one around him that can write a speech like that and i'm not sure he could deliver it, if he did. >> maybe he'll surprise us all. >> president regan said challenger er ar astronauts sl the bounds of earth and touched the face of god, which i remember from that speech. >> things nobody should try to
replicate except in a moment that grand. joy reid thanks. we've been watching everything from inside the chamber. we saw karen pence arrive and take her seat and the motorcade around what is the final turn as it heads up to capitol hill. it encountered a small but vocal, as they say, group of protesters including a gentleman you seen who had a funny way of waving to the motorcade. >> one-fingered solute. >> eight fingers short of a two-handed wave there. i don't know what it is we witness there had. the limousines are arriving on the hill and we promptly lost our picture. we want to bring in our conversation maria teresa kumar. and an msnbc contributor and friend of ours and maria, we wanted to have you on to talk about as rachel and i keep mentioning, by the way, nine days from now we are living
under the spector of shutdown number two and the issue here is immigration. some want true deep rooted immigration reform. some just want to get over the daca hump. is there a deal out there that is agreeable in your mind? >> i think the way for the republicans and the democrats to be able to move forward is to have a clean daca bill because right now the president's proposal basically wants to slash immigration, migration to the united states back to 1920 levels. that's kind of a non-starter for republicans and democrats and a lot of businesses who rely on constant immigration reform of an influx of immigrants. on the democratic side, they have more flexibility. he's requesting $28 billion for the wall. technically, they can give that to him recognizing they have to reauthorize it every single congressional, every two years. that's the possibility. so he gets it. it's a win for his base, but do they actually end up having to
pay for it? that's another question. there is a leeway. the more dangerous part is the way that this toxic environment has come about having conversations about immigrants. there is a constant push and pull. we're really fighting for who we are as americans right now. sadly, if you look at the southern poverty loss, there is an increase in hate crimes, bullying happening in local schools and on track ever since the president basically started his campaign two years ago. so when we're talking about the immigration issue, it's not just policy. technically if they wanted to vote, speaker ryan literally has two pieces of legislation that republicans and democrats will be willing to vote for but he controls the calendar. he's decided not to put it forward. more, though, it's the toxicity of the actual who are we as americans and what does it mean to be an immigrant and how is that put aside to talk about the meat and potatoes for 800,000 young people. >> important issue to include in the conversation tonight.
maria teresa kumar, thank you for being part of this conversation. the speaker was on his apple watch last time. >> i was noticing and poking at that. is that an apple watch? >> that's my theory. >> i will say as we're watching this, we have a split screen. we're watching this, the speech due to start in a few minutes. it's interesting to see the chemistry or lack thereof sitting or standing in the room. will neil gorsuch and alena share a dab joke. is ivanka trump having a substantive conversation with that person? >> is tiffany having a great time? >> exactly. >> joining us is michael who never gets carried away by these catty and petty things that distract us while we look at these pictures. thank you for being with us tonight. >> thank you, rachel, for the vote of confidence. i think you're much better behaved on these than i am. >> you have no idea what is
going on inside my head, my tre friend. michael, he gave a joint address in the state of the union last year. he does this at a time when his approval ratings are unprecedented, historically low for any president at this point in his presidency. he does so also at the what feels like the apex of this potentially crisis facing his presidency, which is the russia investigation, the mueller investigation. how do you put this in context in terms of modern state of the unions at this point for presidents? >> you know, rachel, people have been talking to believe the and the president said himself apparently today he was going to give a unifying speech. in 100 years, we've never seen a president who was as divisive as he's been during this last year playing almost exclusively to his base from the beginning of that inaugural address on american carnage. hard to see after a year that suddenly this is unifying done and the thing that worries me a
little bit, rachel, donald trump has been quoted in private if this is reliable as having said it's not so much a president that unites the country but there has to be a unifying event. i'm not sure what he means. i hope what he does not mean is god forbid some military crisis or something that could involve us in a war. >> michael, was i correct saying at the top of the hour what i'm about to say now, no president has come into this chamber to deliver a state of the union at the end of his rookie year in office with his presidency in this much parol? >> noting like th nothing like . richard nixon in 1974 famously saying i think the investigation of watergate should be brought to an end. one year after watergate is enough. that was january of 1974 and by the way, that was exactly 44 years ago tonight. >> in a white suit accepting the applause of the gallery as people look up and see the first
lady of the united states. >> this usually at this point means that we've got pretty much everybody in the chamber who we think is going to arrive. we should mention as a point of order, the designated survivor tonight is the agriculture secretary sunny purdue. he's been told to stay elsewhere just in case the worst happens. michael, in terms of speech, we've been talking amongst ourselves whether or not this president has good speech writers to call on. how much does it make a difference in terms of the impact of the state of the union how well it's written and performed and how good as a moment of television? >> huge impact, and especially the writing. above all, franklin roosevelt said i want a world of four freedoms, not only did that tell americans we should think about getting involved in the war against adolph hitler but the language was so eloquent, we talk about this many years later
on. >> michael, we're just watching the cabinet come in now. we're told that the president is probably a couple minutes off the schedule that he's supposed to be on. usually they start 90 seconds off the top of the hour. we think it may be a little pushed back from there. this cabinet has been itself a source of difficulty for this president in his first year. he lost a cabinet secretary to scandal helping him seven as a secretary having to step down amid circumstances that never resulted in any sort of congressional inquiry, which i always thought was interesting. rex tillerson, secretary of state is a remarkably controversial figure at that incredibly difficult position and the state department has been transformed under his leadership. nicole? your eyebrows are doing the talking now. >> this is the normal conversation you have before states of the union and i'm wrestling with my own -- we're arching toward normalcy. this is so abnormal